The Curmudgeon


Sunday, June 06, 2010

Having A Go

The Secretary of State for Beer, Skittles and Justice, Kenneth Clarke, is considering whether to declare open season on burglars. The law already provides for use of "reasonable force" in deterring or apprehending criminals, but there appears to be some doubt as to the precise degree of reasonabilitude involved in shooting a teenager from behind or beating in a man's head with a cricket bat. Even the police, whose occasional indiscretions in a similar vein have not been entirely without government support, are worried that reform might lead to yet further unpleasantness. "We could start seeing people being dragged from the streets into houses or stories made up about them trying to break in," said the vice-chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, who believes the present law is adequate. He also implied, goodness knows why, that what has changed under New Labour might be the zeal of the Crown Prosecution Service in pressing charges against people. Nevertheless, like all politicians the Secretary for Beer, Skittles and Justice has a duty to balance society's needs against the expediencies of his party, and to ensure where possible that the latter weighs more heavily. A blank cheque for vigilantism might be just the thing to pacify the grouse-shooting and peasant-kicking lobby (besides the relevant sections of the white working class) until the Government gets around to lifting the ban on fox hunts.


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